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tv   Your Business  MSNBC  December 31, 2011 5:30am-6:00am EST

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what can small business owners learn from musicians besides knowing when to improvise? we'll tell you coming up next on a very special musical edition of "your business."
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♪ hi there, everyone. i'm j.j. ram berks and welcome to "your business" where we give you tips and advice and how to help your business grow. today our show is dedicated to small business lessons we can learn from people in the music industry, including '60s ikons the grateful dead. the band may have called it quits when jerry garcia died, but they are alive and well to brian hall gan and david mereman scott. these authors found out these rock 'n' roll legends have a lot to teach us about marketing. ♪ i will get by ♪ i will survive >> brian hall gan and david mereman scott are deadheads. >> i probably saw maybe 25 or so grateful dead shows. >> i have been to, i'm not sure,
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but 100 plus anyway concerts. >> leave it to a couple of deadheads to come up with a bunch of marketing legends from the legendary band. hall garngs author of "inbound marketing" and scott, author of "the new rules of marketing marketing & pr" just couldn't deny the business genius of their favorite band >> i realized that the grateful dead's marketing was brilliant, the idea of allowing fans to record concerts and many of the other ideas thatty they sort of pioneered. like, wow, there's something going on here. >> what kind of business lessons can be learned from these unlikely heros of rock 'n' roll? >> the grateful dead allowed fans to record their concerts. they actually established taper sessions for the best sound quality. people would set up big, tall microphones pointing at the speakers to record the concert and the band allowed fans to make copies of the tape, give them away as gifts, trade them
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with other people, and it caused the music to spread. >> no other band did that at the time. no other record company would let a band do it. because they thought, well, if everybody has free content that they are sharing with their friends, you know, we'll never sell any albums, but business model was about pulling people into their concerts, and the lesson for modern marketers they should do the exact same thing, create lots of content, give it away. each content you create is like a magnet for customers. ♪ watch your speed >> the name grateful dead is -- it's kind of a weird name, isn't it? it's a little bit scary, and if you don't know the band, you're like oh, they must be weird, so it worked perfectly as a brand name. you don't have to like the band or dislike the band, but everyone remembers that name, the grateful dead. >> almost every other band of the day, whether it's the beatles or the stones or the who, they made all their money from selling albums, and the
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grateful dead made most of their money by selling concert tickets, and that seems like a slight nuance in their business model, but it was very important for them. each concert was very unique relative to each other. they never had the same set list they played twice. >> their whole business model was built around touring. they would go out for something like on average 100 nights a year. most businesses focus on the product, and they want to make the product better than the other guys, but sometimes just thinking about the way you do business and doing that in a different way than the other guys is the way to be successful. ♪ if push comes to shove >> the grateful dead start their own ticketing office, so the grateful dead ticket office allowed the best fans, people like me, to get the best seats in the house, better than those who get their tickets through ticketmaster or ticket tron, the various ticketing agencies. i've literally sat in the front
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row by paying the regular price ticket through the grateful dead ticketing office >> you had to mail in a 3 x 5 card with how many tickets you wanted and your address. had to put a self-addressed stamped envelope in there. you typically spend a lot of time kind of decorating the -- the self-addressed stamped envelope so that when they were putting the tickets in there, the idea was the prettiest envelopes were most likely to get the best tickets. >> this idea of treating your fans with respect and treating them to the best possible available product is something that all companies should do, but not that many do. it builds loyalty. it builds world of mouth because people say, oh, yeah, i'm a fan of the dead and i know a special way to get the best seats ♪ sugar magnolia >> the grateful dead had this parking lot scene of people who would go to the shows early and hang out waiting for the show to start, and people were selling things there, including things
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like concert t-shirts, with logos and -- and later on other things with the grateful dead logo on it, and they actually licensed these street merchants to be able to sell official logo merchandise in the parking lots. and almost every other band would say no way. we're going to crack down, not going to allow that. the grateful dead said sure, let's partner with these people, keep the community vibe going. give people the option of what type of t-shirt they want. >> throughout the long strange journey of the grateful dead, the band was never afraid to try new things and challenge the status quo. >> they looked quiz bombing right in t -- conventional wisdom right in the eye and said you're wrong. we'll innovate in every way, shape and form on our products and our marketing. >> this next piece we'll show you is not your typical small business story. after all, how much us are rock stars, but the lesson in this next story can be applied to any company that goes into a
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partnership where you give up all or some part of your business. in this case, after losing control of their identity, the band third eye blind decided to take it back going independent, restoring their brand and regaining control their business. ♪ >> if there was ever a story of second chances, this is it. third eye blind started out as a scrappy little act from san francisco that turned into an overnight sensation in 1997 with the release of their self-titled debut record. >> here's a band that has had many, many hit singles, a band that was all over the the radio and yet if they continued in their old path there was a clear danger that they would have been relegated to a has been band. ♪ i want something else to get me through this ♪ ♪ semi-tough kind of life >> a song that i never thought
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got played on the radio, semi-charmed life, a dirty filthy song. >> steven jenkins is the lead singer and creative force behind the band. he's still shocked that "semi-charmed life" was such a huge hit. >> nobody listened to lyrics and started playing it. >> the song with a catchy beat was about a drug user's spiraling addiction and was not the single the band would have chosen to define their early career. ♪ i would understand >> that first album sold an incredible 6 million copies, but despite the band's runaway success, they quickly realized they no longer had control of their image and the dresks thirf their music. >> when an artist is signed to a major label they have very little control, and for a lot of artists that becomes very frustrating because they are losing their identity. >> after a couple of frustrating years and dwindling record sales, third eye blind was
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suffering an identity crisis, so they went independent, walking away from the industry to runt business and the brand of third eye blind themselves. >> you know, when we started, we made all the records, and they made all the money. it was a good bargain actually because it allowed us to get our music out to so many people, but now we can distribute music almost entirely by ourselves. >> we have our own record label, we're self-managed and we plug guitars into this board here and out the other end comes something that we give to our fans now. a very direct, authentic proses that we have now. >> we can shoot videos ourselves and we can sit here and fiddle around without edit it, and anybody can do that. i'm super into that, that some kid can go make, you know, "apocalypse now two," electric booing loo. >> steven and other members of third eye blind are now calling the shots, partnering with just a few select people in the industry that share their vision. >> there's not that many cooks
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in the kitchen. it helps stream line the effort and helps the -- the initial vision that's something that can actually get through the assembly line. ♪ ♪ why can't you be the part of me that's missing ♪ >> after a couple of years off third eye blind has a new album, a website and sold out tour and the band has cultivated a devoted audience becoming one of the most requested acts at colleges. >> you sing it. she said -- ♪ >> the way we launched this record was really in the way that we've done so many of the other things, just people that we know. that's all of what third eye blind business is, that people here who are going around this, if you want to call it an of course, i mean, i don't have a desk. i don't need a desk! ♪ lightning comes and lightning goes and it's all the same to me ♪ >> the band's new album debuted at number three when it was
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released in august 2009 and third eye blind quickly start making money. >> a couple weeks after the album came out, it recupouped, d although we don't see the same amount of money because people don't buy cds in those numbers anymore, we see more money per cd. >> there is no doubt third eye blind is back and blazing a trail through the wild west they call the music business. >> there are days when i feel like we're overwhelmed, and we don't know what we're do, but then i'm like does anybody else know what they are doing anymore either? i don't think that the world in music or the business of it is going to look the same as it does now two years from now, but i'm very interested in going along the path and finding out. ♪ don't believe a word
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>> he sings, he dances, and, yes, he even grows avocados. while award-winning songwriter jason razz maybe best known for his music, he doesn't need to look any further for his own backyard for his entrepreneurial inspiration. as an verdict for everything green his avocado grow is known for his environmentally friendly effort. he's set the bar hard and is encouraging oh, especially entrepreneurs, to do the same. ♪ ♪ yes i'll make it all mine >> a passion for your business is essential, and it's business. you don't know whether you're going to win or going to lose. it's going to be a game regard lerks and the passion is going to create the enthusiasm and create the excitement that keeps you in the game and make it easier to spend your money on the business. without the passion, you may be stopped. you may not spend your money. you may not play as big a game
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as you think you can handle, you know, so the passion is really what makes it fun. ♪ good job >> my community of mers is probably my biggest resource. as a young man in my 20s i bought this farm, and when i first decided to take the grove by the reins and know not what i was do, but i looked around and i knew there's quite a few houses in the area, everyone is growing something, and i said i'm going to see what people are up, to because i guarantee somebody's got a tracto somebody's got a compost, somebody's got the skills, talents and resources that can benefit me rather than mooeg me having to search high and low on the internet, let's see who is next door and who may want to participate in my community garden and project, and whether they are growing on my land or their own, and i quickly learned that everyone is interested. ♪ in any business it's important to create an environment based on respect, even if your
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business is a taxi driver, your environment is on the road, and you're going to want to respect everyone else on the road. respect definitely keeps the game of business light and fun and possible, and it's important to acknowledge each other, that we're all in this together, we'll all have our hardships and all have our victories, may not always appear at the same time, but it's important that there's a certain level of respect and what we call hold space. let's just hold space for anything to happen. please and thank you. it's the best thing we can do to respect one another, but then also we go out of our way to practice gratitude, so that -- that thank you rubs off on other people. one of the things i've learned in both as an avocado grower and as a songwriter and touring artist that is as important to ask for and take the advice of those who have been in the business longer than you.
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after i performed in the work environment i got to know willie nelson well and i relate to him so well because i feel like i'm in the same game of touring, of song wright and offing a culture. i couldn't be who i am if i didn't look up to others, if they didn't give me a temp plate to follow, and what i want to create for my business, for my businesses, is the possibility for others to watch and follow, be a part of mine or create their own based on what they have seen. ♪ climb up, over the top >> the whole idea is to be inspired. you know. when i grew up, i was inspired by musicians, and now that i'm older and i have my farm, i'm inspired by farmers, inspired by activists, and i want to create a life where i get to inspire others. the idea is to play full out, inspiring oh, inviting others to do your responsibility so it appears as an opportunity for others. that's how you're going to attract people to play your
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game, whether you're growing avocados or singing songs. ♪ shake, it take control ♪ remember to wind up for yourself ♪ >> the song remains the same when the special musical edition of "your business" continues. the tympany player creates his own line of drumsticks and the wife of the owner of a new york legendary jazz club finds out how to keep the music playing after her husband's death. ♪ jazz man, take my blues away shazi: seven years ago, i had this idea. to make baby food the way moms would. happybaby strives to make the best organic baby food. in a business like ours, personal connections are so important. we use our american express open gold card to further those connections.
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last year we took dozens of trips using membership rewards points to meet with farmers that grow our sweet potatoes and merchants that sell our product. vo: get the card built for business spending. call 1-800-now-open to find out how the gold card can serve your business. we hear it time and time again, entrepreneurs starting business borne out of necessity. let's meet a man who came up with the idea of making a better drumstick with no intentions of starting a company. 45 years later vick firth is on a roll. vic firth has never had to drum up business. his customers have always come to him. >> you know, it's just very, very comfortable, they are very consistent. >> vic firth is a great company. >> considered the gucci of the louis vuitton of drumsticks.
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>> i tried the rest these are the best. ♪ >> when people think drumsticks, they think vic firth. the man behind the name says his company's reputation is not just luck. his customers love his product because he won't stand for anything less than 100%. >> it grew based on the fact that i demanded absolutely top quality of everything. >> firth's obsession with making the perfect drumstick didn't come out of a desire to start a company. just a need to create a better product for his own career aspirins pal tympanist for the boston symphony. >> hi no intentions of getting into a business with somebody that played a stick that was better than available, but i took it to a different height that demanded the most sophisticated plan you could do. >> he took what was available for drumstick selection at the time, did a little bitling and brought those to a wood turner and said i need five, six pairs of this stick to be copied. >> and he hand turned me the first sticks that ever came back
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with the name vic firth on them. >> his music students at the new england conservatory were the first to take notice. >> students would see them and say those sticks are well balanced, play well, great sound, can we buy some, so that's how it all began. >> vic's sticks soon gained a reputation of being the best drumstick product out there. >> i was the first one to guarantee drumsticks to be straight, and then i got the idea of pairing them which guaranteed that the moisture content, the flex, the balance, everything would be identical. >> they package them together in a little cardboard piece. when you take them out, they are really actually a matched pair. >> that innovation led to his famous slogan a perfect pair, a claim that's always irked his competition. >> they said how can you guarantee a stick to be straight? and my answer is troll on the dining room table.
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if it rolls straight, you sell it. if it doesn't, you burn it. >> the slogan perfect pair does pertain to the physical properties of the sticks, but it also conveys the attitude that we have in the company, being perfect, being the best, being number one, having the best product and value. >> vic firth and company has spent years and years perfecting the art and science of the drumstick. >> at 78 years old, firth is always on the move, and he runs his company the same way, with youthful exuberance, never satisfied with the status quo. he calls himself the continuous unsatisfied customer. always challenging people to do things just a little bit better. >> well, there are no caps on standards as far as i'm concerned. we're constantly modifying and improving the manufacturing. >> we do have a philosophy, if it ain't broke, we break it and try to come up a better mousetrap.
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>> he makes the four-hour drive to boston to his wood turning factory in newport, maine, once a week to make sure things are running smooth. >> i how are my favorite ladies doing today? >> quality control is very, very important here. whatever we do for a job, we need to make sure that it is correct throughout whole proses. >> the standards never change. we do now daily 80,000 sticks a day. >> firth says they have captured 62% of the drumstick market. >> and, of course, vic isn't satisfied with 62%. we'd like 80%, 90%, ultimately 100%. that's not realistic, but we never stop trying to improve and increase our market share. >> nowadays vic firth's sticks march to the beat of very different drir different drummers, from classical and rock 'n' roll and in between and he's also extended it into another division making rolling pins and pepper mills giving them to some
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of the top stars in the food world. >> i applied the same thing to drumsticks and got some signature pepper mills and mario battali has been very successful. >> firth has been running his company for 45 years. you would think after all that time and success, he eastbound tempted to rest, but that's just not in the cards for vic firth. >> boy, i don't let go for no, so if you have a dream or if you have a desire or a goal, go for it. aim for the moon. if you want to get halfway there, you're a hell of a ways up. that's the mode which i operate under. >> when her husband max, the owner of new york's legendary village vanguard died, lorraine gordon knew all about nas jazz, but she knew next to nothing about running the business her husband left behind, but she learned quickly and two decades later the club is still hopping. ♪left behind, but she learned
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quickly and two decades later the club is still hopping. ♪ the village vanguard is a ledge endry jazz nightclub located in new york's greenwich village. >> welcome to the west village from new york. one minute away from showtime here at village vanguard and we're featuring saxophonist steve wilson and his band, wilsonian grain. the village vanguard is by far the most historic jazz club in america, possibly the world at this point. >> your name will be at the door. >> that's the owner, lorraine gordon. >> i mean, the owner doesn't sound so exciting, but that's what i am. >> don't let the bluster fool you. at heart lorraine gordon is a classic small business owner, figuring it out as she goes. >> i don't do bookkeeping. i hire someone to do that. i answer telephones a lot, can i do that. i do the bookings, i do that very well. i like to think. if you have to do it because you've got your back to the
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wall. now what? sink or swim. well, i don't -- i don't swim very well, but i swam. i tread a lot of water. ♪ >> it's been operating in this tiny basement since it was started by lorraine's husband, max gordon, 75 years ago. >> he opened this club in 1935. it was not a jazz club then. it was the same room, but it did not jazz. it was poetry readings. >> i at buoyed the village vanguard success by and large to max gordon who ran this club for many, many decades and had a great horse sense about him. >> this was max's office. there's a picture of max sitting right here in this spot. this is the same terrible ugly desk. i dare not get rid of it. >> my father max sat down very strong roots. >> these days debra gordon helps her mother run the club her father created. >> what is, that another
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message? >> yeah, it just came. >> what's the secret to the vanguard's long survival? it might be knowing what to change and when. through the '40s, '50s and 506s the vanguard's format shifted from poetry to jazz, and the business model shifted, too. >> we don't serve food. i have no food bills. that could eat up half your business. we through food out. when the chef died, the restaurant part went with hi. that's great. people don't care. you know, all that clatter and the smells that go with the foot and the roaches, oh, god. don't even talk to me about it. >> event think came to be known as a showcase for new musical talent, from john coltrane and miles davis, to harry belafonte, even the then unknown barbra streisand. >> do i have to tell you who barbra streisand is? no. miles davis was playing here at the time, and max asked miles would he accompany her? no way, he said. she got up and sang anyway, and
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she was very good. >> last year streisand repaid that debt by performing again at the vanguard, something she talked about in a recently released dvd. >> after everything i've done and everywhere i've been, i'm back to where i started. life is a circle, right? >> you're surround by the faces of jazz greats. i mean, the history is thick. you can almost, you know, breathe it in. >> in 1989 max gordon died, and lorraine gordon says she was completely unprepared to take over. >> i really was not trained in any way. i wasn't encouraged, you know, hey, lorraine, would you maybe like to take over? nothing. i close it had that night and i wrote a little sign closed and opened it the next night. now i learned what to do or what not to do, and i learned on the job, as they say. >> lorraine takes a very hands-on approach to the village vanguard, and i think it's
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because she cared so much about it. >> i didn't think this club should just go because max went, or i didn't want someone else to have it. i would rather close it up. that's all. i -- i didn't want to see it in anybody else's hands. it was too precious, too precious. ♪ >> after more than 20 years running the company, listening to the musicians still gives lorraine the chimpts listen to her talk about a recent performance. >> that was a magical night. the music was ethereal. you just can't believe it. everyone was like floating on air. it was so good. it was so perfect. it was that way all week, but that particular night it got to me, so i say, god, i'm so lucky to be -- to work all day and come down at night and hear this, it was super. don't ask. it works somehow. the people come. if they come, the place stays. that's enough, guys.
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it's 6:00, out. come on. i mean, that's enough. that's two hours. i don't give anyone that much time. >> to learn more about today's showers, just click on our website. it's openforum.com/yourbusiness. you'll find all of today's segments, plus web exclusive content with more information to help your business grow. and please become a fan of the show on facebook. we love getting your feedback. you can also follow us on twitter. it's #msnbcyour business. next week, how adapting to new light bulbs is adapting to a new energy efficiency era. >> every time there's a new technology out there, people come to us and want to us stock to it. almost forcing us to adapt. >> learn how this store has modified its business model to keep up with the changing times. till then, i'm j.j. ramberg, and, remember, we make your business our business. sam: i'm sam chernin. owner of sammy's fish box.
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i opened the first sammy's back in 1966. my employees are like family. and, i want people that work for me to feel that they're sharing in my success. we purchase as much as we can on the american express open gold card. so we can accumulate as many points as possible. i pass on these points to my employees to go on trips with their families. when my employees are happy, my customers are happy. vo: earn points for the things you're already buying. call 1-800-now-open to find out how the gold card can serve your business.

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